Members of Manitoba First Nation to return home after forest fire - 660 NEWS
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Members of Manitoba First Nation to return home after forest fire

Last Updated Jun 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm MDT

People from the Paungassi First Nation watch a fire burning in Little Grand Rapids, Man. in a handout photo provided by councillor Clinton Keeper of Little Grand Rapids. Residents of Little Grand Rapids, a remote First Nations community, will start returning home this weekend. The fly-in community was evacuated on May 20 because of a forest fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ HO-Clinton Keper MANDATORY CREDIT

WINNIPEG – People who fled a First Nation in east-central Manitoba that was threatened by a massive wildfire are to start returning to their homes this weekend.

The fly-in community of Little Grand Rapids northeast of Winnipeg was evacuated on May 20.

The fire forced hundreds of people to huddle in a school gymnasium as they waited for the smoke to clear enough for planes to land.

Initial reports said 11 houses were destroyed.

A total of 974 residents were forced to leave and have been living in hotels in Winnipeg.

Once the fire threat passed, officials had to deal with restoring power, making sure the water was safe to drink and replacing refrigerators.

The Canadian Red Cross said a small group of residents went up earlier this week to make sure everything was OK.

“The decision on when to return home was made by chief and counsel in consultation with the federal government,” they said in a news release.

Starting on Saturday, residents will be flown in to Little Grand Rapids airport and from there transported home by community boat.

Their return will be spread out over three days, with the young and frail to be the last to return to the community so everything will be in place for their arrival.

A spokeswoman with the Red Cross said residents from Paunigassi First Nations, which was also evacuated during the same fire, have not yet been approved by its chief and counsel for a return to the community.

Manitoba Sustainable Development has said the wildfire was caused by a person.